Konami’s decision to make eFootball PES 2021 a “Season Update” was a risky one. With both Sony and Microsoft rolling out new consoles, Konami rolled the dice and gave the “make the sports development cycle two years” gamble. Utilizing two years of development time while building off the surprisingly solid and improved gameplay of PES 2021 has put a lot of pressure on Konami to deliver a vastly improved overall footy experience for PES 2022. It’s with this in mind that I’ll detail five areas that must see improvement in this PES 2022 wishlist.
PES 2022 Wishlist
Master League Improvements
What good is solid gameplay if the main offline career mode (Master League) is stale and outdated? Master League is the backbone of PES, but over time it’s become outdated, suffering from a lack of inventiveness and creativity. Everything from the youth academy to “regen” players needs to be looked at with an eye towards making it at least on par with EA’s FIFA 2021.
Once upon a time, Master League was the benchmark for footy career modes, but sadly over time the lack of resources put into it by Konami has seen it left in the dust. Simply put, Master League needs to be better for PES 2022.
An Enhanced Edit Mode
What would PES be without its loyal community that takes the barebones edit mode and produces wonderful option files? Probably not much if you ask me. For starters, there needs to be an online community-based server hosted by Konami where you can download option files without the need for external USB-based storage devices. The complexity involved in loading option files most likely drives a few folks away who would likely stay if they could hit a “download and apply edit file” button.
After that enhancement, there are more changes to edit mode that need to happen. Let’s start with a better stadium editor. In this age of license wars, the more options the better, and as of now, the options available that pertain to stadiums are not enough.
Last but certainly not least, there needs to be more “slots” for kits, manager/stadium photos, and so on. We shouldn’t be limited by some random in-game number for slots. If I want to fill up my console’s hard drive with every kit Chelsea has ever worn, then let me do it!
Revamped Tactics System & AI
I’m putting these two together, not because I’m trying to sneak in a sixth item, but because they feed off each other. The tactical system in PES has gone unchanged for some time now. In fact, the last major addition to the system was “fluid formations” — introduced way back in PES 2018. Sure, individual tactics like “Gegenpress” were added more recently, but overall one of the main areas holding the AI back was the tactics system and the rigidness with which the AI follows them.
Tactics like “long ball” and “deep defensive line” are certainly approaches that managers take in real life, but they’re applied contextually in real life when the situation calls for it. Seeing the AI pass the ball backwards in PES is a good thing, but seeing those players pass backwards just to hoof it up the pitch to a diminutive striker is frustrating. More importantly, it also makes the AI predictable and easy to read.
Apart from a major overhaul in tactics, the AI also has some kinks to work out, and this is especially true as it relates to “responsiveness” and “awareness” on the pitch. Having your players stuck in animations or seeing them completely ignore the ball are two of my biggest pet peeves with PES. If I’m being honest, PES 2021 is better when it comes to both than any other recent iterations, but both areas could use some work.
PES is very reminiscent of traditional Italian managers like Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri. Both are very big on set patterns of play when attacking, which can make them predictable at times. PES often falls into this trap, so hopefully PES 2022 does a better job of having some more unpredictability when it comes to AI.
Look, if you’re going to lack the major licenses of FIFA, then you better make up for it in other areas such as presentation and menus. Not having authentic presentation packages hurts, but the overall presentation elements in PES could simply use some modernization. More statistical overlays would be nice. Having the league table before a match, something about recent form, and even just accumulated season stats for players in-game would do wonders.
And speaking of league tables, would it hurt to change “Rankings” to “League Table” or even “Standings”? There are so many odd choices of words that can be off-putting to any players new to PES. Every year Konami boasts about updating the menus — and to their credit they sort of do. The top menus always have a fresh coat of paint, and I’m mostly fine with what the year brings, but it’s the sub-menus that are in dire need of a facelift. PES’ tutorial isn’t bad — it does cover a lot of gameplay nuances — but you almost need a tutorial to just navigate the menus.
Harness The Power Of Next-Gen Consoles
Graphically, FIFA 21 next gen was a huge step up from my PS4 Pro version. I know EA was not lauded with praise for the graphical changes — at least in comparison to something like NBA 2K21 — but as an avid player, I noticed.
Textures looked more crisp, player faces were extremely detailed, and lighting was improved. I expect the same thing from PES, but not just with the scanned faces. Those are generally excellent, but for the generic players that often fill out teams Konami must now do better. Nothing dampens the mood quite like the random generic PES player in all his glory during a zoomed-in replay.
One of the undersold selling points for the PS5 is the adaptive controller. Before the enhanced graphics kicked in, it was the feel of the controller that sucked me in. With some time with the new controller, I hope Konami gets creative with the haptic touchpad and sensors. PS4 games like Ghost of Tsushima took a swing at using the touchpad intuitively, so I can only imagine what the PS5 is capable of (sorry Microsoft fans).
Audio needs to be improved as well. This means more commentary lines for Drury and Beglin, and more variety added to stadium sounds. Partner clubs need to have authentic in-match audio. If not that, go the PS3 route and allow us to import our own custom audio clips. (For reference, one year my wife gave me Bluetooth headphones so she wouldn’t have to hear Stamford Bridge’s “Come on Chelsea” through the surround sound.)
Last, load times need to greatly reduced. The days of loading PES up, grabbing a snack, and making it back to your controller just as the first pop-up appears needs to be over. Thankfully, if anything happens, I think it will be this.
It’s going to be a big year for eFootball PES 2022 and that’s why I wanted to put together this wishlist for some of the top items the company needs to nail right off the bat. There are going to be a lot of eyes on this game and raised expectations for the folks over there at Konami. Failure to deliver or innovate is going to lead to a lot of “they had two years and this is the best they could come up with this?” talk, and in my opinion that would be reasonable. We’re still a few months away from when we start hearing news about the next game, but Konami, “you had my curiosity, now you have my attention.”
Am I asking a lot of PES 2022? If so, is it too much or too little? Let us know in the comments.